Lifestyle Prior To Change
I lived a life of depression. I am a single mom of two and I just gave up on life. The only relief I had or wanted was to drink or smoke and sleep.
What was your low point or turning point?
My lowest point was when I stopped even looking in the mirror. I hated who I saw. I wanted to commit suicide. I was tired of living but I knew I couldn’t do that to my kids.
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
It’s very hard being a single parent because your day is already full trying to do the job of two people. My training and dieting required financial sacrifice as well as me prioritizing my time better.
My quest for a fit and fabulous me started in 2008. I was a depressed and overworked single mom. I would spend my days getting up early, preparing the kids for school, rushing out the door, commuting to work, working in a cubicle for 8 hours, then rushing back home to pick up kids, do homework, cook dinner, and prepare to do it all over again. On my off days, all I did was stay in bed. I couldn’t believe that this was MY life! I became a functioning anti-social alcoholic. I hated myself! I knew that I had to do something to get my self-esteem back and find some type of happiness in my life.
In April 2008, I received a bonus from my job and on that same day received an e-mail about a party. As I scrolled through the e-mail, I found an ad about a fitness boot camp in Chicago. I took this as a sign from God to get my life right and fast! I called the owner of D3: Dre’s Diesel Dome LLC., Andrea Everett, and told her that she could have all of my bonus money, $500, but I had to get in shape.
From that point forward, I would drive 30 miles into the city on Saturday and Sunday to attend boot camp. It was an AWESOME experience. The program pushed me physically and mentally to be a better person. After a couple months, I changed the way I ate. I added more lean protein, veggies and good carbs to my diet.
As time went on, I started to see a change. I became so motivated by the program, that I decided I wanted more out of life but wasn’t sure what. Andrea took me out to coffee one day and told me to just step out on faith. She saw my enthusiasm with working out and suggested that I look into become a certified group fitness instructor. This change would provide me the flexibility to be a more active mom to my girls since they were practically raising themselves because I worked eight hours a day and commuted another two.
So in October 2008, I decided I would quit my job as an Executive Assistant and become a fitness instructor. I ordered the materials and studied my butt off! In April 2009, I passed the test and became an AFAA certified Group Fitness Instructor. By May 2009, I was working part-time with D3 and soon after was offered a full-time position as the Director of Operations for the program.
Becoming a group fitness instructor has truly changed my life. Every time I teach, I am given the chance to motivate and inspire people that so often think that losing weight and being fit is just too hard. I recently did a six week fitness challenge with some of my clients and the results were phenomenal! I had two members who lost over 10 lbs. and 3 inches around the waist and hips! I cried, they cried! It felt so good to share my journey with others and motivate them to better health and wellness.
Nakia's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
My trainer focused mainly on my weak body parts or the parts we knew were necessary to build in order for me to compete. So we focused a lot on shoulders, legs and back.
- Sunday – Shoulders, biceps, abs and hamstrings.
- Monday - Cardio.
- Tuesday - Biceps, triceps and abs.
- Wednesday - Legs and abs.
- Thursday – Cardio and P90X abs.
- Friday - Back, triceps and abs.
- Saturday - Teach kettlebell bootcamp class.
|Monday - Shoulders, Biceps, Abs and Hamstrings|
|Cable Hammer Curls||3||20|
|Barbell Military Press||3||20|
|Dumbbell Side Laterals||3||20|
|Dumbbell Front Laterals||3||20|
|Cable Upright Rows||3||20|
|Deadlift (110 lbs)||3||20|
|Straight Leg Deadlift|
|Hanging Leg Raise|
|Wednesday - Legs and Abs|
|Seated Calf Raise|
|Straight Leg Deadlift|
|Hanging Leg Raise|
|Friday - Back, Triceps and Abs|
|One Arm Dumbbell Row||3||20|
|Wide Grip Lat Pull Down||3||20|
|Seated Close Grip Row|
|Bent Over Barbell Row|
|Straight Leg Deadlift|
|Hanging Leg Raise|
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
I did fasted AM cardio 6 days a week for 30-45 minutes.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- I learned that form can make or break you. I pulled a muscle doing deadlifts too fast.
- I learned that doing extra minutes of cardio does not make up for cheats that I would sneak during the week.
- I also learned that if you take more than two weeks off, you will feel like you are starting all over. So don’t ever quit!
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
Right now, I am bulking for the next comp season. I am learning that bulking does not mean just eat everything you see. I still eat clean but just with some added carbs and less cardio. I have to get used to lifting heavier and doing less reps.
Nakia's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
The approach was I had a very strict diet. My diet consisted of protein (egg whites, chicken, tilapia), veggies (mainly broccoli and asparagus) and very little carbs along with drinking a gallon of water per day.
Can you provide us with a sample daily eating plan (please be specific):
- 7 am: 4-5 egg whites and ½ cup oatmeal (plain).
- 10 am: Chicken breast or tilapia and broccoli or asparagus.
- 12 pm: Chicken breast or tilapia, asparagus and a sweet potato or 1 cup brown rice.
- 3 pm and 6 pm: same as 10am.
- 9 pm: Protein shake or 3 hard boiled eggs (whites only).
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
Yes, I learned that the diet I was on was way too strict and that it is worth the money to get a great nutritionist on board to help you with your fitness goals.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- That not all fats are bad.
- I learned to let go of the beer. I drank more calories than I ate, LOL!
- I also learned that supplements are just that, they help to add to a great diet and training plan but they won’t work alone.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
Yes, I was allowed one cheat meal per week but I am human. I snuck in a couple more than I should have.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
My key supplements were a multivitamin, 1000mg vitamin C, BCAAs, CoQ10, calcium magnesium, evening primrose oil, fish oil and/or flax seed oil, glutamine and whey protein powder.
Advice For Others
What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Assemble a great team to help you meet your goals: trainer and nutritionist.
- Be patient with your progress. It won’t happen over night but if you keep taking steps toward your goal every day, you will soon see the results.
- Learn to love and accept who you are. Some folks are meant to be skinny and others are not. You can get in shape but you can’t change your genetics.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
I stay motivated because there are so many people who thought I would fail. I couldn’t let them win.
More From Nakia Dunigan
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
Now, I swear everyone asks me for health advice. I am no expert but I love that my transformation has inspired others. Now, I am addicted to weight training. When most of the women at the gym go towards the cardio equipment, I go with the guys and lift weights.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
My motivation is winning a trophy at my next figure competition. I am very competitive and I won’t quit until I bring a great physique to the stage and take home some hardware!
How can people contact you?
- Visit my website: www.nakiadunigan.com
awesome! very inspiring. being a single mom is hard...and you did this! wow wow wow
Great job Nakia. You are an inspiration to us all! Keep up that great work! ;)
Very good motivating and inspiring story